After we sadly TPK in my long Shattered Star/ Runelords campaign, we chose Iron Gods as our next target.
However, one of our players was not fond of mixing vanilla and chocolate, and the rest of us thought it would be OK to change the pace a bit and step out of Golarion, so I made a few (drastic?) changes to my Iron Gods campaign. As there are sometimes requests in the forum for alternative magic, alternative divine, world, or tech for this campaign, I thought I might let my changes drop here, in case someone finds an idea or two that they can borrow and adapt. As a seccondary reason, some people might chip in and make suggestions that I can borrow too :P
I'm going to spoilertag the big chunks of text, so nobody dies by WallofText overdose, and they can go to the things they feel might be worth their time.
Somehow, one day, The Prophetess warned the world about the destruction coming from the sky. That day, stars fell through the sky. The two superpower nations, believing they were under a nuclear attack, retaliated. The world-wide armaggedon should have wiped every single life from the face of the planet, but The Prophetess, somehow, made a Miracle and destroyed most of the Nuclear bombs (along with most tech in the world). She dissapeared after that (her followers say she Ascended into godhood).
The problem is; the nuclear fallout, and the destruction of most working technology, produced a near-armaggedon level of destruction, regardless. More importantly, the fallen stars happened to be alien ships, which leaked their own mystery radiation, biological hazards, and clouds of nanites, which changed the world, forever. Soon, the humans and animals that survived the apocalypse, changed forever. Mutations went wild, and entire populations of humans changed into orcs, skulks, trolls, ogres, and such. Newborns were mutated as well, born with lower height or other traits. Radiation created ghouls and other freak creatures.
More importantly: some of the newborns were born with strange tatoos that could change colors and lighten themselves (similar to the ones that androids have). Within the shortspan of a generation, those with the strange tatoos discovered they could made "magic". Soon, androids were revealed to exist too. Distrusted at the begining, and extremely secretive of their origin, they still provided some insight about the tattooed and their magic powers. They were able to control "nanites", some kind of invisible creatures that could be ordered by these tattoed men to do things that common men would consider impossible, such as fabricate walls, produce force shields, generate heat or cold, alterate thought patterns, and even animate corpses. At the begining, only a group of men could use this magic, the Technic League. Soon, the ability to do so was too widespread to be controlled anymore, with more and more newborns having nanite-based tattoos. The rest of the civilization crumbled in less than one century, with most of the survivors becoming mad-max style wanderers, or raiders, becoming gatherers or predators of the few resources left, as well as scavengers of the miracle-like technology that the alien ship spread through the world. One hundred years later, all androids went down, and reset their memories, effectively dying and being reborn again, with their previous knowledge wiped. Whatever secrets they knew, if any, were lost with this First Generetion Memory Wipe.
And thus we arrived to the current day. The world (particularly the place around the starfall) is a radioactive wasteland with acid rains, desert-like landscape, filled with monsters, raiders, and alien and robotic menaces. Mad Max style gangs and tribes assault those who attempt to trade between the few cities that still prosper. The Technic League has a stranglehold over alien technology, and the few still working labs and factories, giving them a massive power over the rest of the communities and towns, such as Torch. The only little hope the world has, beyond technology, is faith. Faith in Brigh, the Prophetess. Faith in divinity, and the miracles it provide, is the only thing that humans have that technology can't copy, upgrade and mass produce with ease. It's what keeps humans and machines sepparated, the only thing humanity can be proud of, so far...
First thing that I wanted to change: Laser weapons and other alien tech should be superior to non-alien tech. Currently they are not, in my opinion. Also, fireweapons should be the go-to option whenever available, and not an afterthought for those who can't properly specialize in the composite bow with strenght modifier
Here is what I did:
"Guns everywhere" is active. Guns are worth and ammo are worth 1/10 of the price, firearms are simple weapons, and Missfire only means the gun is jammed and need to be unjammed before firing again. Classes with "Gunsmith" feat get "Gun Training" instead.
Even then, guns are too expensive for low level. So I made "battered" weapons and hand-crafted "pipe guns" be worth 1/4 of the normal value, and have x3 crit instead of x4, plus +1 missfire and get broken in a missfire (take in account that we are talking about modern weapons, such as "pipe gun" revolvers and such.). guns are touch attack in the first range increment vs primitive armor (ie: leather, etc) but not vs ballistic armor (ie: a bullet proof jacket). Natural Armor is decided by the GM, at whim. IE: "leather like" natural armor, such as a bear or ghoul or lizardmen, will be primitive. "Metal-like" or stronger, such as a dragon or robot or earth elemental, will be ballistic. Force armor (such as mage armor) works as ballistic. (this reduces slightly the value of firearms, which is fine because they are going to be everywhere and PC will need to protect themselves too). Some ammo options, such as "piercing bullets" will treat Ballistic armor such as Primitive armor.
Beam weapons (Laser, sonic, zero, etc) are touch attack at all range increments, regardless of the "ballistic" quality of the armor. They are also 18+ /x2 crit chance, making them specially useful against robots (currently, in normal Iron Gods they arent, as hardiness affect energy damage as well, some robots have energy resistances, and x2 multiplier is way worse than x4 vs hardiness, giving no adventage at all).
Time Worn doesn't exist. In my game, the starfall happened 250 years ago or so, not a few thousands. Most alien tech is still working well. I also feel that "Time worn" and the skyrocket price of tech is a balancing factor to avoid the tech being "commonplace" in normal Golarion, and I understand it, but such fear is unwarranted in my own world.
There are 3 "charges" in the game. Electricity charges (such as the ones used by a laser gun), which can be taken from alien charged silverdisks, or from Numeria tech level batteries (which are often non portable or weight 40+ pounds and really innefficient). Nanites, like the ones used by hypoguns, which come from nanite cannisters only. And fuel, used by cars and some Numerian-level technology of jury-rigged weapons and gear, such as flaming throwers and such. Some portable generators allow to burn fuel and gain electricity, but even this is not really cheap, and fuel is scarce by itself, as there are no reliable ways to produce it anyways and is almost always saved for cars, Mad Max style.
So to made them easier to use, and based on the tech guide "semiautomatic" quality, which gives them a "free feat" in rapid shot, I decided to give a few free stuff for fire arms users. That, together with the fact that they are simple weapons, will make it easier to drop them for the minions of the evil guys and raider gangs and stuff, and will make them the weapon of choice for feat-starved low level guys, or nice sidearm for feat-starved spellcasters which would not normally use weapons regardless (my PC) (as a side note: I ussually give for free several tax feats which in my opinion should be part of the regular game, including power attack, deadly aim and point blank shot, to those with the pre-req. I haven't in this AP, changing that for the modified fireweapon stuff)
Weapons have a "Stock", a "barrell", a "sight" and "mounted options".
Pistol grip: gives you Point Blank Master, effectively ignoring the AOO when in melee combat. Works for non-pistols with pistol grips, as a sawed off shotgun and some submachine guns (Uzi-like)
Shoulder Stock: Gives you Deadly Aim. Shotguns, riffles, and some submachine guns
Tactical grip: gives you Shoot on the Run. Mostly for submachine guns, like the Thompson, but also some carbines and some assault-ready shotguns.
Folding stocks: can be changed between pistol grip and shoulder stock.
Long barrel: gives you Far Shot. It's weapon based (so you can have a long barrel revolver which is, effectively, shorter than a regular barrel shotgun).
Short Barrel: gives you Point blank shot. Again, weapon based. A short-barrell sawed off shotgun might be longer than some long barrel revolvers.
Double Barrel: Gives you Many Shot. Mainly for shotguns
Perforated barrel: reduces recoil by 1 (reduces by 1 all the malus from multiple shots, including rapid shot, automatic shot, and itterative attacks)
Cylinder: revolver-like cylinder, which gives -1 missfire to the weapon.
Semi-automatic: gives Rapid shot
Automatic: like Semi-automatic, but also can shoot to every enemy in a line of fire with -2 to hit
Bolt-action: (includes pump-shotguns and lever rifles as well). -1 to miss fire, requrire swift action to "reload" the bolt-action, gives you Weapon Focus. Most "battered guns" and "pipe-guns" or jury rigged low level guns are either revolvers or bolt-action rifles, to counter the +1 missfire of jury-rigged handcrafted guns made of scavenged parts.
Iron Sights: Gives you "Bullseye Shot" Feat
Reflex Sight: Gives you Critical Focus
Telescopic Sight: Gives you Improved Precise Shot and Vital Strike, but -4 to hit within 30 feet.
Night Vision Sight: Gives Low Light Vision and Dark Vision.
Mounted options are:
Silencer: Needs to make a DC15 perception roll to hear it (modified by distance and walls as normal)
Muzzle compensator: Just like Perforated barrel (dont stack)
Laser sight: Precise shot
Tripod: Suppresive Fire
Bayonet: like game rules.
I want to achieve a "fallout 4" feeling with these changes, making the PC wanting to scavenge weapons and use the modifiers for their own, custom made firearms, if they feel so.
This modifiers can be taken from wepons with a Craft: gunsmithing skill, and added to other weapons. Weapons have +5 DC to the regular gunsmithing rolls to solve missfires and such for every added custom modification. About prices, ranges ussually go for about 1/2 of the cost of the weapon, but...
I have changed the economy as well.
Most alien tech prices go down. At the bare minimum, all of them cost 1/2 as much. I started trying running the prices as they are, but tech become "sell-it-so-you-can-buy-regular-magic-items" stuff. Why pay 1500g for 5 charges of Trauma Pack, if you can buy 100 cure light wound charges in a pair of wands?
Then I also went to a "barter" system. Gold coins do not exist. Most people barter goods for goods, with ammo, pure water, fuel, battery charges, food and medicine (anti-toxin, anti-plague, etc) being the most common "coins". Silverdisks are used because of their ability to be recharged (many of them still work in my world, as they haven't been depleted for several millenia), and become a "de facto" coinage system, but most people (including traders) dont have more than a few dozens, 100 at best, and nobody, ever, carries 4 thousands of them waiting to buy the party unwanted scuba diving suit. They can trade that suit for some other gear, with a few caveats: the trader would need the suit for something (which might not be the case in a desert, for example), the trader will offer only things he has, and the barter is done by the needs of both bartering sides, not by the nominal price of the tech item in the book. So he might give you a half-useless overpriced magic rod for your overpriced scuba diving-suit, but he's not going to give you a +5 longsword for it. And he might not give you nothing at all if he lives in a desert.
I did this in part because of the overpriced techstuff, but also because I think it adds to the post-apocalyptic vibe, more than the usual pathfinder assumption of "everybody is forced to buy your crap at half price, regardless of its usefulness". As a side effect, it makes the prices of everything just a guide, and it heavily deflates the regular level-up inflation, so players aren't able to buy the whole Torch just because they sell a high level useless tech item. It also makes high level interesting but overpriced gear more attractive to keep, because the cost of opportunity is not that high (a player might want to keep an astronaut suit, but no one will do if it costs as much as a vorpal sword for what it is effectively a half-arsed halfplate with some energy resistance)
My players whined and grumbled a bit at the begining (it's a radical change from my ussual "go by the book" approach to selling and buying items), but I think they trust me, and I think I can pull this off, making "gold coins" obsolete and giving the game a much better "mad max style" where the players will have to use what they find, instead of buying/crafting a wish list. Of course, it also means I'd have to keep an eye on their chars, so I can change or add some treasure to fix whatever unbalances might arise (such as too much "wisdom gear" for a group that needs "Int gear", and is unable to sell Wisdom gear to buy/craft Int gear), but that's not a problem, and I already have done so in the first few sessions when needed.
My small group consists of a little mutant man (a gnome, by game rules, with a few racial traits changed) that has a power armor (synthesist with humanoid eidolon, modified rule-wise). He was betrayed by a man, who left him behind during a scavenging mission in a cave, and he had to scrap-build his armor to survive, a-la Tony Stark. He is seeking revenge for a few years now. His nemesis will be Nargim Haruvex (whatever is left of him, that is).
Other PC is an Android Magus Bladebound/kensei. His sword will be related to Casandalee (whose name is Destiny in my game) and his sword's ego will push him to search for her.
My other PC is a spell-slinger android, who is a more advanced model (more human-like, took the racial trait to remove the malus to empathy and such). He already speaks Androffan, although he doesn't know why, and he has some flashbacks when he enters in some of the ship wreckages and such.
The two androids are living with Khonir, and have the trait.
So far, they solved the Fires of Creation mystery. They let Garmen Ulreth leave, and claimed the Silverdisk Hall for them (but have no plan to run a casino, as they did want to please Serantha Olandir). They uncovered Sanvil Trett, who they trusted in the begining. He told them his story, including how he feared Garthorned and how he was a drug addict, and also told them he is almost certain that Khonir is a Tech League fugitive, but he did not want to betray him. They believed him, and planned how to hide the fact Khonir is alive. I'm undecided if Sanvill might change his mind again later.
They killed Meyanda and all the orcs, and decided to go to Scrapwall to investigate what happened. I changed the first part of Lords of rust, and instead of a group of Saerenrae Crusaders in a lost castle, they faced several Smilers who were attacking a caravan. I used a lite version of the vehicle combat rules and made a somewhat refreshing and fun vehicle vs vehicle combat, with one of the Smilers vehicles using a harpoon, which mimicked the autograpnel rules without the adamantite part, and some other guys in motorbikes and so. Players had their own cheap, jury-rigged vehicle as well, and at the end they took the smilers car and a few bikes, and some fuel, leaving the rest for the caravan survivors, which told them about Scrapwall gangs and how does it work (a hint about scrapworth)
I changed Meyande's black nanite hypogun and Mw Spiked Gauntlet for a +2 Strength Power Fist, which requires 1 charge per hour of use and does 1d8 damage (1 size upgrade). Also changed Garmen Ulreth's rapier to be the Magus' bladebound weapon, and Yurian's skillslot to be a +2 INT enhancement skillslot, which they still have to find someone who can install in one of the PC
Any suggestion and criticism is welcome. And anything there is free to steal too.